From the Publisher
“In her children’s book debut, cookbook author/illustrator Gourley celebrates food, as cultivated on a farm and as used to cultivate family bonds. . . . Children whose experience of food supply is limited to grocery stores, school cafeterias and other eateries will relish this nostalgic view.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“Gourley’s luscious watercolors will have readers salivating as the berries plunk into pails and peach juice drips down chins.”—School Library Journal, STARRED review
“A mouthwatering morsel that should come with the warning to eat before reading!”—Kirkus Reviews
“Gourley’s watercolor illustrations are fluidly drawn and attractively designed, with emphasis on the colors and visual rhythms of the vegetation but plenty of eloquence in the portraits of the family. . . . A happy account with a useful emphasis on seasonality.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This debut children’s book by an artist and cookbook author celebrates the growing seasons and the irreplaceable pleasure of fresh food shared with family.”—Booklist
Warning! Do not read this book when hungry. A year's worth of foodstrawberry shortcake, dark amber honey, peach ice cream, garden-warm tomatoes, baby watermelons, skillet corn bread, butter beans, applesauce and nut-butter cookiesflows across page after mouth-watering page in this paean to sunshine, soil and the earthly rewards of hard work.
The Washington Post
In her children's book debut, cookbook author/illustrator Gourley (Cakewalk) celebrates food, as cultivated on a farm and as used to cultivate family bonds. Recounting African-American chef Edna Lewis's childhood in a Virginia farming community, the cheery watercolor spreads follow Edna and various relatives ("Sister," "Daddy," "Auntie") from spring to first snow as they harvest strawberries, dandelion greens, peaches, pecans and more. Edna appreciates each crop, as well as the honey-gathering: "A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay./ A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon./ A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly," she recites; similar folk sayings or songs accompany mention of each new food, proof of its centrality to the characters' happiness. Dynamic paintings, increasingly lush as summer intensifies, add vigor. Children whose experience of food supply is limited to grocery stores, school cafeterias and other eateries will relish this nostalgic view. A short biography of the late Lewis concludes the narrative, and five mouth-watering recipes for Southern staples are welcome extras. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Edna Lewis was an African-American chef in New York City when neither women nor African Americans were generally in such positions. This story is loosely based on her childhood in rural Virginia where her family lived off the land. It was that upbringing that helped create the celebrated chef who understood the importance of fresh ingredients in her cooking. While young children may not understand about fresh ingredients and a career in cooking, they will enjoy learning about where the food they eat comes from. Gourley follows her character through the growing season, starting in early spring and ending with the autumn frost. The fruits, the berries, and the nuts they pick are all used in the meals the family eats, with the surplus being canned and preserved for the winter months. Gourley's luscious watercolors will have readers salivating as the berries plunk into pails and peach juice drips down chins. The story itself does run a little long for young listeners but the short ditties the children sing about what they are picking help to liven it up. Pair this title with Donald Hall's Ox-Cart Man (Penguin, 1979) to show children the rhythm of the seasons and a time when we were much more connected to the basics of life.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
"Time to get up!" says little Edna Lewis one early-spring morning, "I hear the whippoorwill. That means it's gathering time." So begins this celebration of one family's year of harvesting local foods, all lovingly described in a homespun present tense. In springtime, greens and sassafras root; ripening cherries, wild blackberries and peaches (and much more) follow in summer. When school begins, there are apples-for apple butter, cider, applesauce, crisp and pies! Edna's childhood was preparation for her career as an accomplished chef and author of four cookbooks. Truly ahead of her time, she believed in preparing food that came directly from the fields, fresh and delicious. Interspersed throughout the text are folk sayings and African-American rhymes. Gourley's sunny, bright watercolors depict the family gathering food and enjoying it at table and in the fresh air. An author's note describes Lewis's career and includes a bibliography of her cookbooks followed by five recipes. A mouthwatering morsel that should come with the warning to eat before reading! (Picture book. 6-9)
Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
“Pecan Drops,” “Strawberry Shortcake,” “Peanut-Butter Squares,” and of course “Apple Crisp” are classic Southern recipes featured at the close of this book, lovingly born generations ago and generously shared by Twentieth century pioneer Edna Lewis, an Afro-American chef. Such delicious treats are staples of dedicated farmers, neighbors, and friends across the globe who know first-hand the great care required to properly harvest nature’s bounty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and all manner of other ingredients. Children can observe elements of managing a garden as they follow young Edna rooming in fields and celebrating every season. Happy, lyrical songs filled with sage advice accompany Edna and her extended family as they work. Readers will be charmed by her heart-warming excitement while learning about the rhythms of seasonal harvests to create homemade fare: a salad from a mess of greens, sassafras tea, sweet honey on hot biscuits, deep-dish cherry pies, summer pudding, blackberry cobbler, skillet cornbread, peach ice cream, tangy tomato sandwiches, watermelon pickle, and other fresh homemade dishes. Watercolor illustrations bring the rich gathering of crops into this delightful biography, showing what it must have been like growing up in Freetown, Virginia. An Author’s Note highlights background information about the author’s inspiration from her own childhood experiences, just as Edna Lewis inspires by her wonderful example. This book readily incorporates natural ingredients, ripe from lush gardens and fields, into wonderful kitchens across diverse families who also greatly appreciate regional cuisine. Reviewer: Susan Treadway; Ages 7 to 10.